Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Sex

Font Size

A Little Gratitude Keeps Relationships Strong

Study Shows Gestures of Kindness and Gratitude Can Improve Quality of Relationships
By Katrina Woznicki
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

May 24, 2010 -- A new study suggests small thoughtful gestures and a little everyday gratitude toward one's partner can yield a great deal of happiness and help strengthen relationships.

However, the researchers caution not to confuse gratitude with indebtedness, which, they said, does help maintain relationships but lacks the power that gratitude has in bringing a sense of fulfillment about the relationship.

The findings are published in the June issue of Personal Relationships.

Sara B. Algoe, an assistant professor of research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who studies emotions and reciprocity, and colleagues looked at the interactions between 67 heterosexual couples who had been in a romantic relationship for at least three months.

The participants were either students or staff at a West Coast college campus. Their mean age was 25; 57% had completed college; 56% were white, 27.6% were Asian, 8.2% were Latino, and 7.5% indicated "other."

The couples had been together an average of 3.26 years and had been living together an average of 1.8 years. Nearly 24% of the participants were married and nearly 12% were engaged.

The participants completed nightly diaries for two weeks to record any thoughtful actions toward their partner and any actions from their partner that benefited them. They were asked to record any small, thoughtful gesture, such as picking up their partner's favorite coffee, preparing a celebratory dinner, or taking the kids out to give the other partner some quiet time.

The participants also recorded their emotional responses to these daily interactions and their overall satisfaction with the relationship. The researchers reviewed the diaries from both partners to assess the emotional responses to the partner's reported and the participant's perceived behaviors.

Relationship Satisfaction

The study results showed gratitude was strongly associated with relationship connection and satisfaction for both men and women. The researchers suggest that extending positive emotions and gratitude to romantic partners can increase the benefit of positive thinking tenfold.

The study also shows:

  • 43% of women and 36% of men said their partners did something thoughtful for them.
  • 35% of women and 33% of men said they did something thoughtful for their partners.
  • Participants agreed with their partners 61% of the time and disagreed 39% of the time.
  • Of the days when the partner reported doing something thoughtful, the participant agreed 51.2% of the time. However 48.8% of the partner-reported thoughtful behaviors went undetected by the participant.
  • Men were more likely to associate gratitude with indebtedness than women.

Today on WebMD

couple not communicating
How to tell when you're in one.
couple face to face
Get your love life back on track.
couple having an argument
Turn spats into solutions
couple in argument
When to call it quits.
Life Cycle of a Penis
HIV Myth Facts
How Healthy is Your Sex Life
Couple in bed
6 Tips For Teens
Close-up of young man
screening tests for men
HPV Vaccine Future